HOW NOT TO BUY A HOUSE
Owning a house is a lifelong dream that everyone wishes comes true. This is an investment of a lifetime and often has many hurdles, often financial. If you’ve managed to save up some cash, have access to a mortgage and loan or have won the lottery; you’re well on your way towards buying a house.
There are many stories of those who started off with big dreams, yet failed to secure their property. Some of them failed by doing the following:
1. Going it alone
Buying a house is quite intricate and time-consuming. Statutory requirements demand that you seek professional help, especially when it comes to drafting the sale agreement, doing the land title searches, conducting a valuation study, and filling land transfer forms. You cannot afford to go it alone, so it’s important to identify a reputable law firm to guide you through the process.
Lawyers who deal with conveyancing are particularly good at this and may save you a pretty penny in the end.
If you are buying the property through a mortgage scheme, the financiers are likely to link you with reputable valuers.
Bear in mind that it is risky working with independent valuers who are not accredited to lending institutions, especially for mortgage purposes. Their reports may not be accepted by some banks.
2. Buying in blind faith
When it comes to real estate deals, you cannot afford to close your eyes and assume that all will be well. Many are conned daily by dealing with bogus land buying companies. Before closing the deal, make sure you are clear on whether the land has any encumbrances such as caveats and family wars, and verify whether it has proper documentation.
Although many only seek to confirm whether the title deed is valid, it’s important to note that spousal consent in the discharge of a property must be confirmed, especially with the new land laws that. This is because a spouse is deemed to be a co-owner of a property even when the name is not on the title deed.
You also must ensure that the property you are buying actually belongs to the vendor, or whether it is there in the first place.
3. Waiting for the price to come down:
Real estate agents advise that the right time to buy a house is “now”. This is because property rates in Kenya are growing at phenomenal rates. Houses (and land) appreciate rapidly. What costs Ksh 100,000 today may double in price within a couple of months, especially when located close to urban areas or developing infrastructures like roads and railway lines.
4. Thinking with your heart rather than head:
Do not be taken in by aesthetic values alone. Although the finishing may be superb, there are other aspects to consider. Where is the house located? What is the pricing of other houses in the vicinity? Are there enough social amenities around? Is the security adequate? It’s no use living in a lavish mansion located in the middle of a desert.
5. Forgetting the hidden costs:
You’ll be shocked to learn that there are a myriad of hidden costs standing between you and your dream home.
There are inspection and appraisal fees to pay, stamp duty to go the government, insurance costs if going the mortgage way, higher utility bills if you move to the “wrong” neighborhood, valuation fees, legal fees and many others.
While you may be able to pay the 10 per cent of the sale value up-front, the hidden costs, which run into hundreds of thousands of shillings for a modest structure, can be a a deterrent in the long run. Ensure that you’ve planned well before committing.
Lawyers often demand a 10 per cent cut on the deposit should you wish to withdraw from the deal, not to mention any other losses you may encounter in the process.
6. Live within your means
Do not try to keep up with the Jones. Operate within a comfortable budget to avoid heartache s, sleepless nights and auctioneer visits. If employed, it’s advisable that at least a third of your salary remains intact after all statutory and loan deductions.
Prepare for any future inhibitions that may come your way, and whether, in the event that you lose your source of income, you will be able to sustain the loan repayments for at least a year as you seek other revenue streams.
7. Falling for anythin
Scout the market for at least a month before settling on a particular house. Don’t be taken in by the many units available on the market, or fall for the first house you see.
Look for the tell-tale signs of a troubled neighborhood; graffiti on the walls, abandoned jalopies on the streets, broken gates, and dilapidated houses among others. These will inform you on what type of neighbor you’ll have.
Once you identify a particular house of interest, visit it during different times of the day. It may be peaceful and quiet during the day, until you discover your neighbour regularly throws house parties that end in the wee hours of the morning.
8. Taking too long to commit
If you have the money and are sure the deal is clean, commit at the appropriate time, usually within two weeks of receiving the offer letter and by paying the requisite deposit witnessed by a lawyer. Follow that up by asking
the vendor to take the property off the market , otherwise s/he might have a change of heart especially if offered a higher amount.
Until papers, contracts, agreements and deeds have been exchanged, the deal is not yet sealed.
9. Forgetting to inspect the house
Check whether the plumbing works, the ceiling needs replacement, the walls need new coat of paint, or the roof is leaking. Are the taps working? How about the door knobs, or even the doors?
Many often discover too late that ouses that look superb in photos, may be crumbling on the inside. You may end up spending a fortune in renovations.
Where possible, insist on a written list from the vendor of all the fittings that may require repair or outright replacement before signing the sale agreement.
10. Quoting too high
If you do not know how much to offer for the house, consider seeking advice from professionals in the field. Check how much similar properties in the area are fetching and use that as a guide to avoid being overcharged.
You can also use the valuation report, which forms the basis of all mortgage calculations.